Saturday, July 28, 2012


"CLEANLINESS is next to Godliness" – ran Ovid's advice to young men setting out on amorous conquests in his poem Ars Amatoria. 

A clean body and a well-groomed appearance was not only indispensable in the art of love, but was also considered a fundamental feature of Roman self-esteem, frequently contrasted with the uncleanliness and unkempt appearance of Barbarians living outside the borders of the Empire.

This summer an exhibition on the art of Imperial Roman bathing is on view at Budapest's Museum of Fine Arts.

The exhibition BENE LAVA (HAVE A NICE BATH) runs through September 2nd at the museum in central Budapest, Hungary.

An array of bathing implements, combs, strigilae, lamps, water-resistant flip-flops and other artefacts are on display. 

One major eye-catcher is a BALSAMARIUM (unguent jar) in the form of the head of Antinous similar to the one shown above. 

Antinous balsamaria were exceedingly popular in Rome. Suitable for holding bath oils or moisturizers, an Antinous balsamarium suggested that its owner would emerge from the baths looking like a God. 

And we thought modern advertising came up with that gimmick!

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